Mohamed Abazied (George Samara)

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Mohamed Abazied was killed by a rocket fired at the southwestern Syrian city of Daraa while reporting on Russian and Syrian military airstrikes on the city, according to his employers and other news reports.

Abazied, also known professionally as George Samara, contributed to the pro-opposition satellite station Nabd Syria and the Syria Media Organization (SMO), which also is sympathetic to the Syrian opposition. Both reported that he was covering the airstrikes at the time of his death, and the journalist posted live video of the attacks on his Facebook page just before his death.

In the video he posted to Facebook just before his death, Abazied appears in an abandoned building and describes what he says are the sounds of Russian and Syrian planes bombing civilians in the area. Another person briefly appears in the video to warn him of an approaching fighter plane ready to attack.

“Let them go ahead,” he responds. “Death is better than humiliation.”

Shrapnel hit Abazied in the head, killing him instantly, Ziad Al-Rayes, a spokesman for the channel told the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Abazied, 40, had lived in Daraa for six years prior to his death. His own home was destroyed in an airstrike last year, according to local news reports. In his reports for SMO and Nabd Syria, he covered civilian casualties, the destruction of residential buildings and infrastructure, and the plight of those forced to flee the conflict in Daraa.

On March 10, Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy, chief of the Russian General Staff Main Operational Directorate, told reporters in a press briefing that Russian aircraft had carried out 452 airstrikes to support the Syrian government’s push to retake eastern Aleppo province the previous week alone.